My son, Dutch, took us up the mountain to a deserted town which must have been used for mining. Great views from up there. So remote. People had to have been really motivated to live that far from civilization. Vail itself wasn't built at the time the little ghost town was settled.
Vail was created for skiing in very recent years.
Leadville is only 35 miles south of Vail and worth a trip back to see what is looked like in the old times. Currently, though some of the attraction is to bring in tourists, and that changes the complexity of things. I was first here in 1985 and it was more reserved and interesting than what it has evolved into today. The pictures from back then are not any longer found, so the brochure is closest I could present this still suggesting a trip is worth the effort.
The town started when gold was found in 1860 and it got overrun by 8,000 seekers of fortune. It had a peek population of 30,000 at one time. There are 70 blocks of historic buildings on the register. It now is down to about 2,500 residents and the mines are under EPA control for the lead that is exudes
This is a small community close to Vail and it is worth a visit for seeing the preserved old town strip of buildings. Georgetown has/had the fame of having the Royal Gorge RR come form here to go down to the south. Now I am not sure if it runs or not. The shops and the retail are nice to visit. The weather here is brutal in summer, or especially winter. Being in a valley that is surrounded by high mountains, it gets gusts of winds beyond imagination. The local tour operator told me it gets easily to 70-80 MPH winds through here and it starts in early fall. Summers also gets a breeze, but not as fierce.
There is a gold mine in Idaho Springs called Arco. It has a tunnel mine going back 4 1/2 miles, and also a museum, and gift shop and mill that processes the ore. It is a nice visits and not too far to the east. Another mine called is just south of Idaho Springs and a working mine used today. Entrey is $10 for adults.
This is maybe a fine town to visit out to the west of Vail about 80 miles when o tourists are there. I came through here to take a look around and could not even get to the first main intersection (Labor DAy) without 30 minute delay. It was a madhouse and risky driving with vehicles going in every direction and not being friendly to the other tourists. I can only imagine the springs are nice, but could not even get close to find out. Taking pictures was too dangerous due to the traffic and congestion.
The population of the town is 1,900, and it seems like all may be in retail trades. The strip is about one mile long, with one end being for stays and cabins/camping and the other has the retail shops. It is surrounded by the mountains from all ends but the south where US 70 cuts off any growth that way. So they keep building to the west. It is a nice place to visit and shop and some things to do is to go to the gold mine, or the mineral springs.
There are over 50 14000 foot peaks in the state of Colorado (52 or 54 I think). Quite a few are an easy all day hiking adventure. Here I am atop Holy Cross Mountain just outside of Vail. The views are worth every minute of the hike....I'm on top of the world!
There are more than 50 14,000 foot peaks in the state of Colorado (52 or 54 I think). Quite a few are a fun day hike adventure up to the heavens. Here's a photo of me atop Holy Cross Mountain. Oh my the views....I'm on top of the world!
Hike to Hanging Lake - this is about an hour hike in Glenwood Canyon to the most incredible crystal clear lake you'll ever see - you can see trout swimming deep in the lake. Waterfalls, spouting rock and views of the canyon are spectacular. This is easily on the top ten list of the most beautiful places I've seen. Check out this website: www.hikingincolorado.org
The park is about 7 miles east of Glenwood Springs.
This hike begins at the Hanging Lake rest stop along Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, through which the Colorado River flows. Westbound travelers must exit a few miles farther west at the Grizzly Creek exit and double back on the eastbound lane to the Hanging Lake exit. Eastbound travelers can drive east from Glenwood Springs directly to the Hanging Lake exit. The return access to Interstate 70 from Hanging Lake is westbound only, so drivers who wish to continue east on Interstate 70 must travel west to the Grizzly Creek exit to get back on track after the hike.
If you're looking for a backcountry tour through the Rocky Mountains in Vail, Colorado, do not book it with Timberline Tours. Oh, they are happy to make your reservation, but if a larger group comes along, they won't think twice about cancelling on you at the last minute. I recommend Lakota Guides for a tour instead--very professional, great Hummers and Jeeps and they keep their promises!
Cycling is big in Vail, and for those who prefer road riding and don't mind hills, Vail Pass is an excellent ride. Start off in town and take Frontage Road or hit the golf course trail. Both will spit you out at the end of Vail, where you'll go under I-70 and begin to climb. The road dead-ends for cars, but for bikes and pedestrians, it continues up, up and up. You need to be in reasonable shape for this ride, and I'd recommend a bike with more than ten gears. You can turn around when the road ends, or continue on to Copper Mountain, Dillion and beyond on the trail that follows I-70.
Check your brakes before the descent!
Vista Bahn/Chair 16 is the most common way onto the mountain. It runs from Vail Village to Mid-Vail, where you'll find a restaurant and Chairs 3, Wildwood Express, and 4, Mountaintop Express. Vista Bahn, while it's primarily an access lift, also serves some excellent terrain, and some of the most difficult terrain on the front side. If you want some double diamonds, take the green Gitalong Road to any of the following- Been There, Done That, The Narrows, Mudslide and Frontside Chutes. These will all spit you out onto the lower section (blue) of Riva Ridge, where you'll take Mill Creek Road back to the base.
Tourist Trap has changed since the days of old. It's still a steep, often icy black (especially on the left side as you skid downhill) in the midst of a fairly steep, blue Riva Ridge. Access Tourist Trap Via Gitalong Road, (heading toward Mountaintop Express/Lift 4 from the top of Vista Bahn then cut down onto Gitalong Road toward Trans Montane, another green catwalk.
If you want to take the whole Riva Ridge, a long run that switches from black to blue to black to blue, has moguls and ice and power and a nice pitch- it's one of those thigh-burning, end-of-the-ski-day-hope-I-don't-crash runs that, if you don't stop, makes you feel like you've done something- from the top of Mountaintop Express/Lift 4, take Swingsville (green) and follow it until you hit Rive Ridge. Swingsville will cut off to the left before you get to Riva, but keep going along the ridge. Prima is a nice double black that starts off just across some trees from Riva, and Riva Glade... it's a black I haven't ever taken, but it's there for you.
If you don't want to do Riva, but are in the mood for intermediates, any of the other blue runs, Whistle Pig, Expresso, Cappuccino or Christmas are good runs, as is Swingsville, a green, all of which run down to Mid-Vail.
If you want to head over to Northwoods, take Pronto (black) or the Trans Montane Catwalk(green).
If you find yourself in above your head, take the green Trans Montane Catwalk out.
You can also get to Avanti from Vista Bahn, via Gitalong Road.
Vista Bahn Express Lift/Lift 16- High Speed Quad, 1997 vertical, 9 minutes, closes at 4:00 pm.
Wildwood Express Lift/Lift 3- High Speed Quad, 833 vertical, 5 minutes, closes at 4:00 pm.
Mountaintop Express Lift/Lift 4- High Speed Quad, 1101 vertical, 4 minutes, closes at 4:00 pm.
Northwoods is such a magical area that is vastly ignored. Something about the way the trees are- it's more of a winter wonderland than other areas in Vail. Starting from the lift, Northwoods Express/Lift 11, you'll note that at the end, the lift rises above a cliff- so don't hurry out of the safety bar. Under the lift, therefore, is some nice, steep, expert terrain, South Rim and North Rim. Steep moguls, good snow and all the people on the lift to watch you fall, make this a great run. North and South Rim both open onto the bottom of the black run, Firststep, and empty onto Northstar, another black you can run, as with all of this, via the Timberline Catwalk. Further down Timberline Catwalk are the blues, Northwoods and Snag Park. Again, this is a great area and isn't usually too full of people. The snow is good and if there's powder, this is the frontside area to be skiing.
You can access Northwoods via Trans Montane Catwalk (green) from Mid-Vail, via Prima Cornice (black) and Pronto (black), or via Flap Jack (green) and Roger's Run (double black) from Highline Lift/Lift 10. Highline services some nice runs itself. Primarily black runs, Highline is the farthest lift east in Vail. Roger's Run and Highline (double blacks) as well as Blue Ox (black) are not usually very popular, probably due to the slow chair, but are, nonetheless, really nice runs. If you take Roger's Run, you can access Log Chute and Klickity Klack, two blacks that are short but nice. Take Brisk Walk Catwalk (green) to Riva Catwalk or Mill Creek Road to get back down.
From the top of Highline Lift, you can also access Flap Jack and possibly Tin Pants, two greens that will take you to easier ways down or to Sourdough Lift/Lift 14. Sourdough serves a green area/beginner zone, also including Boomer and Soughdough. Flap Jack empties into the Northwoods area, and approaching the lift is a slow zone.
It's possible that the lift has been changed to a High Speed Quad since I was last there.
Northwoods Express Lift/Lift 11- High Speed Quad, 1544 vertical, 6 minutes, closes at 4:00 pm.
Highline Lift/Lift 10- Double Chair (HSQ?), 1762 vertical, 14 minutes, closes at 4:00 pm.
Sourdough Lift/Lift 14- Triple Chair, 517 vertical, 5 minutes, closes at 4:00 pm.
Game Creek Bowl is a nice, intermediate area that offers some less cared-for terrain as well. As you look down the slope, to your right, accessed via Eagle's Nest Catwalk, are Deuces Wild, Faro, Ouzo and Ouzo Glade, expert slopes not so much because they are steep, but because they are either in the trees (well-spaced trees) or in terrain that is less prepared. Straight ahead of you are Showboat, a wide blue, and a branch of Wild Card, a black. They are essentially the same, wide run, Wild Card just has some nice moguls, while Showboat is typically groomed and easy. The blacks, Deuces Wild, Faro, Ouzo and Ouzo Glade can have a decent amount of powder- they aren't typically run by most people on Game Creek, unless there has just been a lot of snowfall.
To your left, down the catwalk are more blue runs, The Woods, Baccarat and Dealer's Choice, as well as a green, Lost Boy, if you go all the way around. From the top of Lost Boy, you can access the other blues here. It's an easy ballpark (smooth, groomed) run. Dealer's Choice, Baccarat and sometimes The Woods have moguls, and are not usually groomed.
The only way out is Game Creek Lift, Lift 7, which rises 1180 feet, takes four minutes and closes at 3:30pm.
The Avanti Lift, Lift 2, serves some good intermediate terrain, as well as some so-called "expert" runs. From the top of the lift (or you can access Avanti from the top of Game Creek/Lift 7 or Wildwood Express/Lift 3 via Eagle's Nest Catwalk) numerous runs, green to black. Avanti (blue-black), and Pickeroon (blue-black) are good runs here, usually groomed enough for practicing form. You can access Mid-Vail, Wildwood Express/Lift 3 and Mountaintop Express/Lift 4 via Mid-Vail Express (blue), or Overeasy (green). From the top of Avanti, you can take The Meadows, a nice green that gets a bit more difficult near the end, or Look Ma, a steep black that's usually full of moguls and devoid of people. If you like black runs, Look Ma is short, but pretty nice. Watch out for rocks.
Avanti Express Lift/Lift 2 also serves the Black Forest Nastar Public Racing course.
To get to the base of Vista Bahn/Lift 16 and to Vail Village, take Giant Steps if you like expert pitches. I like it better than International, another black that parallels it. If you want an easy way down, Gitalong Road is a green catwalk that crosses back and forth over Bear Tree, an easy blue. You can split off toward Lionshead via the Lionshead Catwalk.
Avanti Lift/Lift 2- High Speed Quad, 1465 vertical, 7 minutes, closes at 4:00 pm.